Amazon about-face on warehouse lease in West Covina

Greenlaw Partners on hunt for new tenant for 177,000 sf former church site

Greenlaw Partners' Wilbur Smith III and Jeff Bezos with 1211 E. Badillo St., West Covina (Loopnet, News.USC.Edu, Getty)
Greenlaw Partners' Wilbur Smith III and Jeff Bezos with 1211 E. Badillo St., West Covina (Loopnet, News.USC.Edu, Getty) has pulled out of a deal to lease a former big-box church in West Covina to use as a last-mile delivery warehouse for online goods.

The Seattle-based ecommerce firm was poised to sign a 12-year lease with Greenlaw Partners, which paid $58.45 million for the 177,440-square-foot building at 1211 E. Badillo St., the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.“

It is common for us to explore multiple locations simultaneously and adjust based on our operational needs,” Amazon spokesperson Alisa Carroll told the Tribune in a statement. “While we have decided not to pursue the site in West Covina, we continue to assess opportunities to invest and grow across the region.”

The project, described in environmental documents as a “light warehousing and distribution operation with approximately 250 employees,” is approved and entitled.

The Irvine-based property owner is now looking for another industrial tenant for the 21-acre site it bought this month from Faith Community Church. Before it became a church in the 1990s, the building was used for industrial purposes.

Last month, Amazon said it was putting the brakes on what had been very aggressive warehouse growth nationally, Bisnow reported. The retail giant has also shifted from leasing its warehouse properties to owning them.

There’s also been pushback from neighbors and environmental groups over the community impact of logistics warehouses, which have factored into discussions about permitting and approvals in Southern California.

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The proposed delivery hub in West Covina had been the subject of a lawsuit filed by labor groups, environmental advocates and a group of residents against Greenlaw Partners and the city of West Covina, the Tribune said. It was settled earlier this month.

The suit, brought by two Teamsters chapters and the groups People’s Collective for Environmental Justice and West Covina Alliance for Responsible Development, claimed the project approvals violated the California Environmental Quality Act, in addition to local planning and zoning guidelines.

As part of the settlement, Greenlaw Partners agreed to five measures aimed at mitigating the environmental effects of the warehouse development.

They include using 100-percent renewable energy and electric vehicles at the site by 2025, encouraging carpooling and EVs by employees, and building so-called green buffers and landscaping between the site and the nearby homes.

In October, Greenlaw sold a 228,000 square-foot warehouse in Simi Valley, where Amazon was a tenant, for $128 million. In November, Amazon bought a Brea call center from Greenlaw Partners and Cerberus Capital Management for $165 million with plans to turn the 639,000 square-foot property into a distribution center.

In August Amazon also signed a lease for a 200,000 square-foot warehouse in Moorpark, which followed another deal to lease a facility in Santa Clarita.

[San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Bisnow] – Dana Bartholomew 

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